Friday, April 22, 2016

Migration Forecast: April 23-27

Pine Warbler
Saturday, April 23rd: As expected, a slight shift in wind direction to the south earlier this week carried away most of the waterfowl and Fox Sparrows lingering in the area. While there wasn't quite the boost in songbird numbers as was expected last Monday, there has been a trickle of birds streaming in throughout the week. Fairly calm winds over the past few nights have allowed for short-distance migrants to work their way into the marshes, with a noticeable increase in Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Hermit Thrushes, White-throated and Swamp Sparrows, House Wrens, and the first arrival of Blue-gray Gnatcatchers. Nearing the end of their stay in northwest Ohio, Rusty Blackbirds are still quite numerous along the boardwalk in Magee Marsh Wildlife Area and the woods surrounding Black Swamp Bird Observatory. 

Although we're still about a week away from seeing some serious warbler movement, individual birds including Yellow Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Palm Warbler, Northern Parula, Black-and-white Warbler, and Orange-crowned Warbler have made appearances in various locations. Yellow-rumped Warblers remain the dominant warbler species throughout much of the region and are becoming more numerous each day. Though not as numerous as the Yellow-rumped, and not that prolific in northwest Ohio, Pine Warblers (often two to three at a time) are being seen along the boardwalk at Magee Marsh and Maumee Bay State Park. Also, Wildwood Metropark saw the first arrival of Yellow-throated Warbler this week (uncommon for northwest Ohio), and Magee Marsh had the first Prothonotary Warbler of the season appear.

Also taking advantage of these calm nights, shorebirds have been on the rise. Increased numbers of Pectoral Sandpiper and Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs are are being found utilizing flooded fields and low areas in the marshes, as well as small flocks of Dunlin around Metzger Marsh Wildlife Area. A trip to the Boss Unit of the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge Complex this week produced 40+ American Golden-Plover, with another 100+ birds in the fields around Metzger Marsh. Other birds that have made brief visits to the area this week include American Avocet, Marbled Godwit, Willet, and American White Pelican. These latter birds are difficult to predict when and where they will show up, so keep an eye out and expect the unexpected in suitable fields and marshes as shorebird migration ramps up.

Looking ahead: Saturday night should see some movement as winds begin to steadily shift from the southeast to the south overnight into Sunday. With this slight shift, Sunday should see more Ruby-throated Hummingbirds as well as an increase in warblers and thrushes. With southerly winds and higher temperatures on Sunday, raptors such as Broad-winged Hawk, Sharp-shinned Hawk, and Osprey should show some decent movement throughout the day--utilizing a tailwind and thermals. But it appears that the best day--as of now--for migration and a new wave of birds will be Monday the 25th. With two Low pressure systems forming over the Mississippi, southwest winds from the Gulf of Mexico will be aimed at northwest Ohio Sunday night into Monday Morning. Accompanying these Lows will also be some rainfall, so be prepared to cover any equipment. By Tuesday, winds are predicted to shift back to a more northerly direction and hold through Wednesday, keeping any new arrivals in the area for at least a few days. 

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